Wildlife Education - A case of pet squirrel illness

A case of pet squirrel illness

Hello, hoping you may have an idea as to what is happening to our squirrels. I had one of our favorite females die in my arms last night, and have no idea what was wrong with her. Here are the details: We've hand fed her for more than 4 years now, she has always been bright eyed, happy & bushy tailed. About 1 week ago, we found a beautifully developed perfectly normal looking baby squirrel dead at the base of the pine tree her nest is in. We removed the baby squirrel (who looked to be ready to start coming out of the nest, had all of its fur, well past the 'pinkie' stage) We saw and fed the mother (her name is Scrap) the next morning, and at that time she appeared healthy, if listless and quiet, we thought she may have been grieving. But, she was eating and she was definitely drinking water, lots of it. She seemed to get more listless over the next couple of days, although when we approached she would accept food and interact normally. For the last 2 days however, she would accept food, (walnuts, peanuts, shelled corn)but then chew very, very slowly, and then almost seemed like she would be uncomfortable, with a tummy ache. Last night found her on the ground, nearly curled up in a ball at the base of her tree. My husband ran in to get me, and in the space of a few minutes we returned to her tree, and could not find her. Then we saw her, she had apparently been able to run about 15 to 20 yards and was curled up in fetal pose again, right against the corner of the building (there were dogs barking, think she was trying to hide from them). We approached her and she could lift her head, and move around a little, but when we picked her up, she did not resist, did not fight at all, in fact she curled up against my husband's shirt and closed her eyes. Keep in mind we have never picked her up or petted her or touched her in any way before this. So we were very afraid for her since she accepted touch, and did not resist. Well, she settled onto my husband's lap, and even curled up and appeared to sleep for a bit. She only moved, really kind of twitched, a couple of times. As it got dark outside, we took her inside and kept her covered with towels, and a hot water bottle down in the box with her, not directly on her but where she would feel the warmth. Her breathing seemed easy, if slower than the usual rapid rate you see in squirrels-but we noticed she was not at all moving anymore, she would blink, but not even try to lift her head or adjust her position. After about 2 to 2 ½ hours, where we could see her breathing getting slower and slower, she kind of coughed, a little tiny sound, and then appeared to stretch out her front legs, and then she just passed away, very quiet and very peaceful. We can only hope we were of some comfort to her, and that she wasn't scared at the last of her life. Please , my concern is could someone have poisoned her? Wouldn't that have been a more violent, convulsive type reaction ? Since we found her baby dead less than a week ago, with not a mark on it, so assuming it didn't fall out of the tree.wondering if it was also sick, and she had to push it out of nest when it died? What kind of disease might cause this ? By the way, we are watching that tree closely, I feel she only had the one baby, but we are watching the nest to see if there are other babies that we might need to try to assist. Any thoughts, or ideas ? I cannot afford a necropsy, surely wish I could. Thank you, guess if nothing else it felt better to tell another squirrel fan the story, anyway.

Please be kind to squirrels! They are intelligent animals, and believe it or not, they definitely have emotions!
If you have any questions about squirrels in attics, just email me at david@squirrel-attic.com